The SCG was near full as Sydney turned out to mark history – with the Australian Kangaroo’s accounting for a brave, but outclassed New Zealand Kiwi side. In front of over 35,000 fans, the Australian side turned on all it’s class and wrapped the game up within 25 minutes as they jumped out to a quick lead.
Two rapid fire tries to Mark Gasnier got things underway and had the Kiwis on the back foot from the outset. The Kiwi’s trying the best and at times have a stack of possession, but ultimately they just didn’t have the level of skill to out point the Australian side.
In a match lined with sadness following the passing of legendary coach Jack Gibson only 1 hour before kick-off, Australia put the visitors to the sword in the first half before holding off a determined Kiwi outfit after the break.
The Australians led 22-0 at the break and always looked dominant as Mark Gasnier scored twice with Paul Gallen, skipper Cam Smith and Israel Folau also crossing for four pointers.
Setaimata Sa scored in his first match for the Kiwis early in the 2nd half while Sam Perrett touched down in the final minute to give the Kiwi’s some promise for the next clash.
Early on things looked shakey for the visitors as Brent Webb dropped the ball on his side’s first touch of the ball.
Greg Inglis put on a silky touch early on, for a memorable opening try. As the ball was racing high over the Kiwi dead ball line, Inglis launched up into the air Michael Jordan style and flicked the ball back over his head to the waiting hands of Gasnier.
Thurston converted from the sideline for a 6-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the unexpectedly strong 34,571 fans who streamed into the SCG, it went from the utterly sublime to the ridiculously easy as the Kangaroos piled on another three soft tries to make it 22-0 after as many minutes.
The Kiwis really struggled after losing inspirational captain Roy Asotasi, who was with medical staff after being knocked unconscious early in the contest, and becoming physically sick.
Gasnier ensured his double after sprinting down a short blind side in which he magestically made enough space to work in.
Gallen then joined in the act and capped his Test debut with a softish try only metres from the Kiwi line, before Cameron Smith got a benefit of the doubt call from the video referee after ducking under the defence and sneaking over from dummy half.
Many felt this could be a repeat of the 58-0 scoreline from the last year, but the Kiwis didn’t walk away from the battle as they not only controlled the Australian onslaught but also started to mount their own attacking charges.
Most of their progress was made out of dummy half, rake Issac Luke giving the Aussies headaches and denied a four-pointer by a desperate covering tackle by custodian Billy Slater.
The Kiwis were given some hope after scoring a try soon after the half time break.
Sonny Bill Williams started to make inroads after a quiet start, as he passed to Iosia Soliola to run 40 metres for New Zealand’s opening points.
Any chance they had of making a comeback, was dashed when a Soliola pass went way over Sam Perrett’s fingertips and over the sideline with the line wide open on the hour. Only metres from the line, Perrett was certain to score had Soliola simply made the regulation pass. Had the Kiwis scored here, there could have been some real pressure mounted on the Kangaroos.
Australia then quickly returned serve, with Thurston kicking to find Justin Hodges on the flank, the Brisbane centre unselfishly passing for Folau to score and put things beyond any doubt.
Perrett could be forgiven for his missed try after Soliola made things hard for him – but the speedy Roosters outside back ensured he touched down late – with a try on the hooter, the conversion was delayed as a streaker turned it on for the fans with a length of the field escapade.